Money for nothing – and your (gambling) kicks for free
How to take free cash from bookies: Part 1
We're all so sure that there's no such thing as a free lunch, that the offer of anything for free has us looking for the catch. So, depending on your attitude to gambling, the offer of a free bet from a bookmaker might have you looking for the devil himself angling for your soul.
But bookmakers do offer genuine free bets all the time, and it can be a fairly simple matter to pocket the sum they're offering without risking your own cash. This article is about playing the system, and picking up the money. It's not about gambling.
The free bets offered online are the industry's primary method of attracting new customers, and retaining and cajoling action from existing ones. It works. New figures from Nielsen show a 40 per cent jump in Britons visiting a gambling website in the last year.
The pace of growth is outstripping Facebook and social media - an additional 3.2 million logged onto gaming sites last year compared with 2.2 million on Facebook and its rivals.
Any search on free bets will bring up a list of them such as Freebets.co.uk. There's loads of them. William Hill and Ladbrokes are offering a £25 free bet when you deposit and wager £25. BetFred is offering a £50 bet once you've deposited and bet £50. The bigger deals come with strings attached, which we'll come to, but all the offers are genuine and money can be made. Start with the small straightforward offers.
How much money can you make? You should be able to get £500 to £1,000 with a small amount of effort. I've made more than £1,000 doing it – £500 coming from just three bookmakers. At the time Ladbrokes and 365Bet had £200 free bet deals, and 10Bet offered a free bet to the level of 30 per cent of your initial deposit, to a maximum of £100.
Other people plug away in a more dedicated fashion. Donglemouse records his matched betting diary in a discussion board on the Money Saving Expert website.
In five years of running his project he'd secured £10,696 from new account offers, and £21,184 from offers on his existing accounts. It's worth noting that cashback sites such as Quidco and TopCashBack sometimes have cash back deals on the bookmakers and betting exchanges which make it worth registering through them.
How do you make money out of this without risking your own cash? The basic method, known as matched betting, is that you use your own money to make your qualifying bet with a bookmaker – for Team A, say, to win their match. Then, at a betting exchange (the main one is Betfair, and number two is Betdaq) with another bookmakers, you make an opposing bet (known as laying the bet) that Team A won't win (ie it will lose or draw). The two bets cancel each other out – you'll win one bet and lose the other.
Now you get to bet with the free bookmaker money, and you find a new event to bet on both possible outcomes. This time, when the game, race or whatever, is over, you're left with a profit.
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Re: Great way to make free money!
Everyone point and go "booooooo".
How is this hard to understand
Site A gives you a "free" £50 bet, but you have to bet it. You bet on Man U winning their next game. Assume for sake of argument that it's 50:50 and that Site A will give you £25 + original bet (£75) if you win, £0 if you lose.
You then take £50 of your own money and take it to Site B. Bet on Man U *not* winning their next game. Again, assume it's similar odds (it's not likely, but they will add up to rougly P=1), say 50:50. Winning the bet will gain you £75.
Option 1) Man U win. You take £75 from Site A.
Option 2) Man U don't win (lose or draw). You take £75 from Site B.
Either option, you've spent £50 and gained £75. Net profit of £25. Granted the odds won't be stacked so obviously, but with opposing bets and half of it being "free", you're always going to gain a return that is greater than your own stake, but lower than your combined stake.
As for EULAs, I've never seen one that stops you from betting elsewhere on the same event. It's pretty much a defacto for spread betting anyway.
I automated the arbitrage via some python scripts to scrape the sites and a EJBs to run the logic years ago (I have degrees in Mathematics, Computational Statistics and Artificial Intelligence). And yes, I said "EJB"s. Site changes can futz me up for a while, but I get it back pretty quickly. I have to be careful to not bet too fast 'n hard, only placing a few a day otherwise I'll appear like a bot (it's still me doing it, the engine just takes the donkey work out; it lists possible bet combinations and I can still dig in if I want with the engine yanking back any hedging bets from the recent scrapes).
EULAs/Contracts? Most are just permutations on a theme, so it's pretty easy to have sets of "rules" that get loaded on a per-site/account basis and factored in (all done engine).
Been running this since mid-2008. Won about £315k less costs (kit, connection, tax) so that's about £200k. Not bad for 2 and a bit years. And I still have the day job. I could reduce the tax liability, but I really can't be bothered. This is (almost) free money to me anyway.
I run a "fantasy bet" system letting it select the top 5 on a daily basis to see how it would run fully-automated. It's pretty good, but the heuristics are not yet up to matching a skilled human. When it is, I plan to run it for a few years, make enough to retire (I won't need much) and then open source everything. It's all built on F/OSS and this is my way of giving back.
There's only one problem with the system I'm using....I'm a dirty great liar too!